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How To Master Single-Leg Squats (Pistols) - Part 3

Updated on February 25, 2014

<< Part 2 - Isometric Pistols <<

You still haven't managed to master a full pistol with each leg yet!? What's wrong with you? Haha, I'm kidding! This really is a difficult exercise to master quickly; it's going to take time.

You can't jump right into doing a single-leg squat until you've practice the movement and done the exercises in the first two parts of this series.

At this point, it still may be an issue for you complete a full rep on each leg so I've got another exercise to help you get there.

Airborne Lunges

This isn't an easy exercise, but it's easier than doing a full pistol.

  • What you'll want to do is put your free leg in the air behind you and then you squat down until your knee touches the ground, but not your foot!

  • So keep that free leg bent behind you to ensure that only your knee touches the ground.
  • Keep that foot up! You can see what I'm talking about in the picture above.
  • Put your arms out in front of you as you squat down and bend at your waist.
  • Keep your heel planted flat on the ground and try not to slam your knee into the ground as you come down.
  • Remember to keep your whole body tight.

If you want to learn more about body weight power moves like this, then you should pick up a copy of The Naked Warrior; it's the book that taught me how to do a pistol.

Want to Learn More?

Putting It to Use

You can set up a workout for this exercise a variety of different ways, but remember this is a strength move. You're going to want to do sets of low repetitions.

When I did this exercise, I'd do 8 sets of 2 for each leg. I'd only do sets of 2 in order to ensure my legs were fresh and would be functioning at their optimal strength during each set.

Once you get to the third or forth repetition, your strength is slowly going to drop off because your fast twitch muscle fibers are going to be cooked. These are your biggest and strongest muscle fibers, but they get fatigued really quick.

I'd recommend doing sets in the 1-5 rep range for an exercise like this. You can decide how many sets you'd like to do based on how much overall volume you can handle.

You can make this a little easier by sliding something under your knee so that you don't have to come all the way down to the ground. This can help you work your way up in this exercise until you can do a full airborne lunge.

Or, if you'd like, you can make it harder by reaching back and holding onto the toe of your free foot as you come down. So you'll only have one arm free to hold out in front of you.

That's it, start practicing this move and the two other exercises from part 1 & 2 and work your way up to a full pistol! Don't rush it, you'll get there eventually.

>> Part 4 - Negative-Free Pistols >>

Airborne Lunges Are the 3rd Exercise In This Video

Did This Exercise Help YOU Master Pistols?

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks - very useful.

    • Bendo13 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Guinter 

      9 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Thanks David, the pistol definitely takes full body strength, tightness and concentration. It's a good exercise when you don't have any equipment. It's surprising how hard it actually is.

    • David R Bradley profile image

      David R Bradley 

      9 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

      The Pistol is an amazing drill. You never truly appreciate it until you try it. This is one of those exercises that will teach you all about overcoming your weak links... great hub, keep it up!


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